When caught off guard many people can suffer extreme anxiety from speaking off the cuff. Impromptu speeches are a regular part of work and home life, from presentations at work, social gatherings or business meetings. The skill of speaking gratefully and confidently will open many doors. Here are some strategies to warn off panic and embarrassment when asked to make an off the cuff speech.
1. Acknowledge that you aren’t prepared – In a very calm and professional way, excuse yourself for a moment to write out an outline. By announcing that the speech is impromptu, you’ll have a chance to relax and focus. Your audience will appreciate the honesty.
2. Begin your outline – With a pen and paper, begin to write out interesting points about your topic. Brainstorm for thirty seconds, jotting down phrases, words and any statistics you know.
3. Opening, Closing and Key Points – Now with your list begin to structure your speech with a strong opening and closing sentence. These are critical to any speech. Then pick your three main or key points that support your argument. These will act as the road map to get you from your opening to your closing.
4. Your Breath- Before you begin, take time to take a few deep breaths and stand up correctly. Not only will you relax, but deep breathing and correct posture will support your voice while projecting confidence.
5. Speed, Diction and Tone – Don’t overwhelm yourself of thinking about too many things, but delivering your short speech with clear diction, a self-assured tone of voice and a varied speed will make you look prepared and professional. Slow down, take time to breathe and maintain eye contact while naturally gazing down at your notes.
6. It’s okay to fumble – If you loose your place or forget the point you are making, act natural. Stand up tall, take a breath, and make the pause seem intentional. If you still can’t remember, skip that point and move onto the next. You may even being an audience Q + A.